There is great economic potential in sports and it can be used as a medium to build out the economy, says Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Business Sandra Husbands.
On Tuesday, during her contribution to the discussion on the Green Paper on the National Sports Policy in the House of Assembly, Husbands said there were many possibilities that could be explored once the policy was implemented well.
“Of great importance to me is the fact that not only are we putting sports on the map in Barbados, it is about putting Barbados on the sports map of the world; the building out of sports as an economic sector that is going to be able to help Barbados to build out new opportunities, not just for athletes [but] for business, for tourism, for a whole host of things. Therefore, it is important that we pay attention to this particular policy and implement it well,” she said.
Husbands added that sports was a billion-dollar industry globally and Barbados should strive to be part of the growth of the sector.
“So what is it that is in the economic sector pertaining to sports? As was earlier outlined, it stands at about $450 billion. It is actually going to reach $600 billion in the next few years and Barbados has to make sure that it is going to be a part of that growth,” she said.
The St James South MP highlighted several areas which Barbados could tap into in the sports sector.
“You have things like sports tourism, sports products, the building of sports venues, the hosting of events, marketing [and] advertising. You also have medical treatment and rehabilitation and you’re talking about food and nutrition. All of those are viable sports economic activities from which our economy can grow and provide opportunities, not just for athletes but for a whole range of entrepreneurs who want to make their money in that sports sector. So, it is an area that we need to pay attention to,” she said.
“It means you have to have an integrated governmental system that understands what it is we need to do to be able to build sports out as an economic sector . . . if you want to build it out as a powerful economic sector, you have to think outside of Barbados, you have to think outside of the box, and you have to build the economic capacity to be able to participate.”
Husbands said this would require a collaboration between the Ministry of Sports and a number of other ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Energy and Business, and the Ministry of Industry.
She added that if state-of-the-art sports facilities were erected here, Barbados could scout for teams to travel to the island and train during school breaks.
In this way, she said, Barbados would not only earn foreign exchange but domestic players would get the opportunity to compete with international talent.
As it relates to digital marketing, Husbands said, “This is where the money will explode”.
Noting that millions of people watch premier league football games on various streaming sites and platforms, she said that if a player or team from the Caribbean was participating, Barbados had the opportunity to promote its domestic goods and services and expose the world to the island’s culture, entertainment and tourism product.